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    Wallpapers, screen resolution and multiresolution Themes



    The most popular screen resolutions nowadays are 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 800x600 px. These cover at least 85% of users. 640x480 px mode is outdated and used only by few. High resolutions, like 1600x1200 are still not that popular too.

    So, if you want to make a Theme, which would fit most users' needs, orient it to at least 1024x768 and 1280x1024 px modes. But in order to make a universal one, add support for the following resolutions: 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. If the Theme isn't distorted badly on itermediate values like 1152 x 864 then you may call your Theme fully universal.
    Don't forget, that if you make a Theme for several resolutions you'll have to test it with them all (to avoid various bugs, such as bitmap displacements, etc.).

    Note: if you cannot test all the needful resolutions due to your hardware limitations, ask someone to do it for you

    One of the most popular wallpaper emplacement modes is centered, when Theme creators make a single solid image for their background, but in some special cases a tiled picture may be used. For example, McSIMM/A.R.T. used such a tiled background stripe for his "A2" Theme prototype. The most universal wallpaper emplacement mode is stretched. However in certain cases this may give you an inappropriate result. For example, if your wallpaper has pattern elements (like alternate lines, boxes, etc.) its stretched version might look distorted under resolutions which are not "native" to it (for example, have a different aspect ratio).

    A2 prototype Theme's wallpaper
    Tiled wallpaper from McSIMM's "A2" Theme prototype looks quite pretty.

    So, generally, when making multiresolution Themes, try to use different wallpaper for each display mode, even though this may highly increase the Theme's archive size and require much more efforts. This hint mostly concerns self-made wallpapers as resampling already finished JPEG files makes sence only when changing their aspect ratio: plain resampling will gain you nothing and Aston can do the same for you.

    Note, that in order to change resolution of your wallpaper you'll have to resample it using an appropriate tool. Most image editors can do this, but in order to get the best result, try using Irfan View or a similar program with Lanczos resampling filter. Unlike bilinear or linear filters of most applications it gives far better results in most cases.

    Never, please, never use "resize" or "nearest neighbor" resampling options in your work (unless you're absolutely sure it's needful) as this is the fastest way to spoil its look:

    A2 prototype Theme's wallpaper
    Just for comparison: SacRat's "Duality" wallpaper resampled with nearest neighbor and Lanczos 3. Try to guess who's who ;)

    And learn one more thing: scaling bitmaps up (making them larger) in most cases kills quality, so try to avoid doing this otherwise your Theme might look blurred or distorted.

    Note: although you can render some graphical elements onto the wallpaper image we'd warn you from doing it and suggest replacing them instead with standalone decorative elements (have a look at "Aston 1.9.1 Desktop" Theme for illustration). This is especially useful for Themes supporting a wide range of screen resolutions.
    Note: as Aston 1.9.2 supports multidisplay Themes you might try using double-width wallpapers for them

    Free advice: if you have troubles with creating your own wallpapers, try contacting any wallpaper author (there are lots of them on and ask one to make you a new wallpaper or to give a permission to use his (her) old work.

    With the set of CC licenses becoming more accepted by the community you can relatively easily find images to base your own work on. More information about it is given in the corresponding section below.

    Making multiresolution Themes

    Themes in Aston, just like in the majority of other shell replacements are usually oriented to a certain screen resolution which is not always a good thing. Just because without much efforts you can make your Theme support a wide range of resolutions and thus make it suitable for most users' needs.

    The way of making multiresolution Themes for Aston Shell is not very intuitive, even though there's nothing difficult about it. Just follow our hints:

    • Try using 32 bit PNGs for the elements, which are intended to be displaced by users unless they're simple enough to be presented by ordinary BMPs.
    • Note, that as all the elements are aligned by their "top-left corner", everything placed in the Top-Left area of the screen will stay untouched under most used resolutions. A sample of this is given in SacRat's Duality Theme which runs fine under a wide range of resolutions.
    • Check if your Theme works under different screen resolutions when using a single stretched wallpaper: sometimes stretched wallpapers are distorted under non-native resolutions. (If possible, make one with a different aspect ratio and keep in mind that downsampling images is always better than upsampling so if your Theme supports 1600x1200 mode, just make a wallpaper with this resolution first).
    • When finished, do the following (you must be running a completely configured Theme):
      • Open Theme Wizard and save your Theme under any unique name like "My First Theme".
      • Change display resolution,optimize your Theme for the second resolution and save it under exactly the same name as above.
      • When you see Theme Wizard's question regarding adding resolution, answer that you just wish to add one.
      • Continue to carry out the steps above until finished.

    Finally you should have a single Theme supporting a given set of resolutions. That's it. More detailed information on this topic can be found here.

    Duality Theme
    This "target" made of a set of ANKs plus Panel skin won't flow no matter what resolution is set as its place is in the left-top corner. (From SacRat's "Duality")

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